By Emma Teitel - Monday, April 22, 2013 - 0 Comments
Shortly after the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly bombed their own city and a day before they took their armory to Watertown, the U.S. Senate defeated a bi-partisan gun control amendment that aimed to expand background checks for gun buyers. President Obama was furious. Vice President Joe Biden verged on tears, while Newtown families in Washington wept openly.
“We’ll return home now, disappointed but not defeated,” said Mark Barden, whose seven-year-old was one of 20 children shot and killed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. “We return home with a determination that change will happen. Maybe not today, but it will happen. It will happen soon.”
Or perhaps not at all. In the wake of Boston some might see heightened hope for the gun control lobby. Paul M. Barrett at Bloomberg Businessweek sees the opposite:
“I’ll predict that the unrest emanating from Boston will benefit the National Rifle Association and its allies in their campaign for widespread individual firearm ownership. For better or worse, the pro-gun side thrives on heightened anxiety … As any gun manufacturer will tell you, the 9/11 attacks helped sales at firearm counters around the country and strengthened the NRA’s hand in lobbying against greater federal restrictions.”
Arkansas State Representative and long-time NRA member Nate Bell tweeted the following on the weekend: “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” Cain TV —Herman Cain’s TV network—was equally subtle: “Just wondering: wouldn’t it be good right now if everyone in Boston had a gun?”
To follow the NRA’s logic—“the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun”—the more good guys with guns, the better. The more gun owners who are “law-abiding citizens”—to use the right’s new favourite expression (“job creators” is so 2012)–the less likely criminals are to shoot up the neighbourhood and hide in your boat. According to the NRA, merely following the law is proof you should have unlimited access to the tools most convenient for breaking it. The gun lobby doesn’t just thrive on fear mongering, or “heightened anxiety,” as Barrett calls it. It thrives on the myth that the law-abiding citizen will never cease to be one. And so its leaders ask, every time a new measure comes before the Senate, every time a violent tragedy strikes somewhere in their country:
Why should harmless, law-abiding citizens, be inconvenienced and insulted with extensive background checks when we have no reason to fear them?
The answer is simple: Until last week we had no apparent reason to fear a person like Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, the “popular” teenage wrestler, handsome stoner, and — at least as far as his father is concerned—“angel” on Earth. Until last week, the brothers Tsarnaev were seemingly harmless, law-abiding citizens. (The older brother’s rumoured domestic violence charge has not yet been verified and there’s nothing illegal about watching unsavoury YouTube videos.) Neither showed any desire to commit mass murder. Everyone’s query, now that four people are dead and nearly 200 are injured, about how two supposedly normal individuals could be capable of such atrocities, is in essence, an answer. It’s the answer to the gun-control, background-check debate: we never know, ultimately, who is capable of evil and who isn’t. We only talk about “root causes” once they’ve torn through the earth and fulfilled their twisted purpose. The Boston Marathon bombing isn’t proof that people need weapons to protect themselves from monsters. It’s proof that any one of us could be a monster. We are all law-abiding citizens until we aren’t.
Why shouldn’t “everyone in Boston have a gun?” Because until last week, Dzhohkar Tsarnaev was everyone. No one today would protect his right to forego an extensive background check on the purchase of a weapon. So why last week? Why ever?
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:29 PM - 0 Comments
The president says it’s only Round One.
As families of victims of the mass shootings in Newtown, Tucson, and Virginia Tech looked on yesterday, the most modest of the gun control proposals put forward in the U.S. Senate could not muster the 60 votes needed to get over Republican opposition. A bipartisan amendment that would have required background checks of all commercial sales of guns (aimed at closing the loophole that had excluded gun shows) was defeated on a vote of 54-46.
Polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of Americans support background checks, but that did not translate into more votes in the Senate where Democrats have a slim majority. Four Democrats from conservative states voted against the measure: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Heitkamp said in a statement that the background checks would “put an undue burdens on law-abiding North Dakotans” and said she would favor measures that focused on mental health policies rather than guns. “This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands,” she wrote. (Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada also voted against the measure, but for “procedural reasons” that will enable it be taken up again at a later time. See technical explanation here.)
Overall, the votes were a dramatic victory for gun rights and the National Rifle Association. Only 40 senators voted in favor of an assault-weapons ban, and only 46 voted in favor of limits on the size ammunition magazines. In contrast, 57 senators voted in favor of loosening gun restrictions by allowing people with concealed weapons permits to carry them in other states.
In emotional remarks from the White House Rose Garden, Obama called the outcome “a pretty shameful day for Washington” and vowed to press on. Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed in the Newtown shooting, also spoke:
“We’ll return home now, disappointed but not defeated. We return home with the determination that change will happen — maybe not today, but it will happen. It will happen soon. We’ve always known this would be a long road, and we don’t have the luxury of turning back,” he said.
Having learned in the first term the limits of his official powers when it comes to passing domestic legislation, Obama is trying a different approach. After his reelection, he launched a grassroots organizing effort called “Organizing for Action”, building on the infrastructure of his presidential campaign machine, aimed at mobilizing grassroots support for his legislative agenda. While some said yesterday’s defeat suggests the failure of his experiment, it’s simply too early to judge whether it will make an impact.
Obama has given every indication he will keep pushing to mobilize his supporters to put pressure on Congress. White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said today: “I think we’re pretty close to a consensus on this just as about everywhere except in the United States Congress. And as the President alluded to yesterday, I think that is an indication of the pernicious influence that some special interests have in the United States Congress. And that is going to require a vocalization of public opinion to overcome it.”
But as he does so, Obama has to keep relations cordial with those same Republican lawmakers whose support he needs to pass his other domestic priority of his second term: immigration reform.
Yet it hasn’t been all defeat for the gun control lobby. Since the Newtown shootings, which left 20 children and six adults dead four months ago, four states have passed stricter gun laws. On the other hand, another twelve have loosened them.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, March 15, 2013 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
The next steps for New York City’s ambitious three-term mayor
There is perhaps no other politician in America as enterprising, as meddling, or downright ballsy, as Michael Bloomberg. And certainly none are as wealthy.
The New York City mayor, who made a fortune providing financial data to Wall Street, is worth $27 billion and is ranked by Forbes as the 13th wealthiest man in the world.
He’s pouring his personal fortune into a public policy agenda that can perhaps best be summed up as saving Americans from themselves. It’s a hard task, even for a billionaire who has run America’s largest city for three terms, and dispensed $2.4 billion to date through Bloomberg Philanthropies, on everything from eradicating polio to road safety to climate change, making him one of the top five charitable spenders in the U.S.
As mayor, Bloomberg, 71, has spent three terms trying to regulate, inconvenience, and shame New Yorkers out of a long list of vices. He banned smoking from workplaces, public parks and beaches; banned trans fats from restaurants; required chain restaurants to post calorie counts of their meals; posted letter grades in restaurants based on their sanitary practices (which he says reduced salmonella poisonings by 14 per cent in one year); and he has vowed to ban Styrofoam containers from stores and restaurants. He launched a controversial campaign aimed at guilt-tripping teenagers into avoiding pregnancy, featuring large posters of frowning toddlers saying things like, “Honestly, Mom . . . Chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” and “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.”
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:26 PM - 0 Comments
Unravelling ‘Skeetgate,’ one Conservative accusation at a time
The whole scandal started with a simple question put to President Barack Obama, and his equally simple answer. In a wide-ranging interview, New Republic writer Franklin Foer asked Obama “Have you ever fired a gun?” and Obama said “Yes, in fact up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” adding that he had “a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations.” It was the President’s attempt to prove that though he’s been talking about gun control, he still can connect with regular gun-toting Joes. And while he probably didn’t expect to convince many people, he probably didn’t expect the reaction he actually got: a new mini-movement of “skeet truthers,” who dispute the idea that Obama would ever fire a gun.
In the first stage of “Skeetgate,” Obama’s claim that he skeet shoots “all the time” was immediately taken up and mocked by conservative bloggers and pundits, who argued that this was clearly a lie or at least an exaggeration. Roy Edroso, who covers the conservative blogosphere for The Village Voice, rounded up examples of how bloggers “immediately and strenuously disbelieved” the assertion. One blogger pointed to a video where Obama looked nervous at hearing a shooting gun, proof that the President is unused to the sound.
Others allowed that perhaps he’s fired a gun once or twice, but is exaggerating about the “all the time” part: Fox News went to an anonymous source who, they claimed, “has been to the retreat on a half-dozen visits with Obama,” and who said that “the only time he shot skeet was for President’s Cup,” plus maybe one other time. “He couldn’t have been more uncomfortable,” the source said, reassuring Fox viewers that Obama is an anti-gun wimp who barely knows how to hold the thing. Marsha Blackburn, a conservative Republican representative from Tennessee, told CNN that she questioned the whole premise: “‘If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why hasn’t he referenced this at any point in time?’”
The cries of skeet fraud became loud enough that the White House staff decided to do what they did with Obama’s birth certificate, and provide the evidence: they released a photo, taken at Camp David in August of last year, of the President wearing shades and earmuffs and shooting at what, presumably, are a bunch of offscreen clay pigeons. But this photo raised more questions than it settled. Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the timing: “Why did the White House decide to release the skeet shooting photos three days before this trip?” a reporter queried, referring to Obama’s upcoming tour to promote his gun-control plan. Even an Obama ally, his former campaign strategist David Axelrod, lamented that Obama “should have put the picture out earlier. I don’t know why they waited five days to put that out. It just rekindled the whole story.”
Especially because the photo created a brand-new story: charges of photoshopping and other photographic fakery. Bloggers took to the intertubes to advance various theories for why the gun wasn’t real and Obama was not the second, or even the first shooter. Michael Harlin of The American Thinker, a very conservative but verbose blog, explained that “the weapon is nearly level to the ground” and that in his 50 years of shooting experience, “I have never once seen a smoke pattern like that,” adding that “it is evident that the President has never shot a shotgun before as his stance is leaning slightly backward.” Blogger Pat Dollard pointed out that Obama was reportedly golfing on the very day the photo was taken, and obviously he couldn’t possibly go golfing and shooting in the same day.
Those who didn’t smell a conspiracy at least saw the photo as a staged opportunity to fool the public into thinking Obama likes guns, when he clearly hates them and wants to pry them from your cold dead hands. The blog Five Feet of Fury summed it up: “Why is Obama shooting skeet with a rifle, why an ‘assault’ model, and why is he aiming so low (while wearing mom jeans)?” The “mom jeans” comment caught on enough to make Obama’s pants almost as much an object of mockery as the oversized gun itself.
If one offhand comment and one skeet-shooting photo can create a whole new flood of conspiracy theories and conservative memes, there’s no telling what we may be in for during the next four years. But the controversy seemed to make it clear what will happen every time Obama tries to prove he’s not so different from the people he once described as “cling[ing] to guns or religion.” It’s probably never going to work. Because as NRA spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam said to CNN, “One picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun control scheme imaginable.” Arulanandam’s tack may be the simplest and most effective one—don’t dispute that the photo is real or that Obama shoots skeet, just say that it doesn’t matter as long as he’s coming for your guns.
By Brian Bethune - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
In conversation with Brian Bethune
Tom Diaz, 72, is one of the most prominent gun control advocates in the United States. A former senior policy analyst at Washington’s Violence Policy Center—which considers firearms violence to be a public health issue rather than criminal issue—Diaz wrote Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America in 1999. It explored the links between political lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun manufacturers. Last year, dismayed by a decade of increasing gun violence and what he considers political indifference to it, Diaz wrote—before the Newtown, Conn., school murders—The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It.
Q: You were an NRA man years ago, someone who grew up with guns and was comfortable around them. What changed your thinking?
A: I ended up on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Crime and Criminal Justice, and I was the only staffer, literally, on that committee who knew anything at all about guns, so they said, “Okay, now you’re going to do the gun legislation.” And a couple of things then snapped me out of my comfortable gun world, especially a hearing about the impact of firearms on children. I interviewed kids and it shocked me what 10-, 11-, 12-year-old kids were talking about—one had actually seen her best friend shot down in the street. And, you know, we thought it was bad then, but it was really only the beginning of the trend in the U.S. The kids’ testimony rolled me back; I thought, “This is not the gun world I grew up in. This isn’t target shooting. It’s not even hunting, it’s just killing machines.” And so, like Saul on the way to Damascus, I suddenly became a convert to gun control. Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
Emma Teitel on who needs military assault weapons
In place of a Second Amendment, Canadians have collective head-scratching about why it isn’t obvious that an assault rifle doesn’t belong in the hands of an ordinary citizen. “Who needs that?” is the typical Canadian question. “Nobody,” is the typical refrain. And yet it seems that a lot of people do “need that,” or claim to. This month—in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, and which saw another school shooting, this time at Lone Star College in Houston—the National Rifle Association added more than 200,000 Obama-wary members to its four-million-plus ranks. And last weekend, Guns Across America—an online community of American gun enthusiasts—drew thousands of people in state capitals to protest President Obama’s new gun-control proposal. Obama’s inauguration this week followed a series of proposed congressional actions that would, among other things, reinstate the Clinton-era ban on assault weapons and limit legal ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. According to a new poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, 41 per cent of Americans are fond of the NRA—loony Wayne LaPierre and all—meaning 41 per cent of Americans are also fond of military assault weapons. Who needs that? Apparently, they do. Continue…
By David Newland - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 8:26 AM - 0 Comments
‘Going postal’ is the tip of the iceberg. The larger problem lies beneath the surface
‘Going postal’—committing mass murder in a public place—seems to have become a horrifying symptom of our times. The latest example, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, has left Americans divided as to how to proceed. Recent data on mass shootings compiled and released by Mother Jones shed some new light on the issues.
The data refer to gun homicides in the U.S., during the past three decades, committed at a single time, away from home, and involving four or more victims. What’s fascinating in these numbers, grim as they are, is that they are often merely the tip of the iceberg: the larger truth lies beneath the surface.
Number of mass shootings in the United States since 1982: 62.
That’s a startling number, to be sure. But what’s truly startling is that despite their dramatic nature, mass shootings together account for “only” 1,007 deaths over 30 years. To put that in perspective, more than 11,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2009. In Chicago alone in 2012, 500 people have been killed in homicides. In the week after Sandy Hook, 100 Americans were killed by guns.
U.S. mass shootings since 1982 in which the shooter, or shooters were men: 61.
Is anyone surprised that the majority of mass shooters were male? Probably not. But that only one of the killers was female must surely be cause for serious consideration. Gun ownership among women in the U.S. as of 2005 was roughly 13 per cent; for men it was 47 per cent. Perhaps more important though, is how likely women are to be victims of gun crime. Harvard Injury Control Research Centre puts it this way: more guns = more female violent deaths.
U.S. mass shootings since 1982 involving semiautomatic or assault weapons: 58.
All but four of 62 shootings included one or more semiautomatic handguns, or one or more assault weapons, or both. There’s a widespread belief that the Second Ammendment to the U.S. Constitution, commonly known as ‘the right to bear arms’, gives carte blanche to gun owners.
Perhaps not: the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 affirmed “The Second Amendment right is not a right to keep and carry any weapon in any manner and for any purpose.” Hence, a ban on semiautomatic and assault weapons might not be in violation of the Second Ammendment.
U.S. mass shootings since 1982 in which shooters used weapons obtained legally: 49.
This figure does not include the two semi-automatics Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook shootings. They’re considered to have been illegally obtained because Lanza apparently stole them from his mother—who obtained them legally, and taught him to use them. (An important fact not dealt with in the popular ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’ post by Liza Long.) In five of the 11 cases of illegally obtained guns in the Mother Jones data set, the weapons were stolen from family members.
Incidentally, in 2004, the makers of a Bushmaster assault rifle similar to the one Adam Lanza stole were sued for allowing their product to fall into the wrong hands after it was used in the Washington, D.C. shooting spree. Since then, the NRA lobbied for, and got Congress to pass a law that protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits seeking to hold them liable for gun crimes.
U.S. mass shootings since 1982 that ended as murder-suicides: 36.
This number may be even higher, because in seven instances, the shooters were ultimately killed by law enforcement officers in scenarios viewable as suicide by cop. For obvious reasons, a lot of attention is being paid to firearm homicides. But did you know firearm suicides are more common?
U.S. mass shootings since 1982 in which shooters had shown signs of mental illness: 40.
This should be the place where gun advocates, and gun control advocates can find common ground. Responsible gun dealers must want to eliminate those who are mentally ill and at risk for violence from their pool of potential customers. But that’s not always possible right now. A mere 12 states account for the vast majority of queries to the FBI database set up for the purpose. Nineteen states have submitted fewer than 100 records each to the FBI database.
One challenge in focusing on mental illness will be not stigmatizing mentally ill people. It’s been duly noted that most mentally ill people don’t commit violent crimes. But it’s also true, as one pundit put it, that “anyone who goes into a school with a semiautomatic and kills 20 children and six adults is, by definition, mentally ill”.
U.S. mass shootings that have occurred since 2006: 25.
Gun ownership is up, way up, in the U.S. since 1982, having outpaced population growth during the period reported by the survey. There are now nearly as many guns in the U.S. as people, which means there’s more than one for every adult American. At least 118 million of those are handguns, according to Mother Jones. And recent mass shootings have caused spikes in gun sales. As gun sales have gone up, so have mass shootings. Coincidence?
U.S. mass shootings since 1982 prevented or ended by armed bystanders: 0.
The NRA’s notion, that schools should be armed to prevent massacres like the one at Sandy Hook, is not borne out by the record. Mother Jones found that an armed bystander played a role in only one of the 62 mass shootings examined—by shooting the perpetrator after he had already fled the scene.
Politically, the issue of mass shootings is a highly visible, volatile one, for obvious reasons. No one wants another Sandy Hook, any more than anyone wanted another Aurora, another Virginia Tech, another Columbine. People keep “going postal,” and the horrifying results are plain to see.
But “going postal,” however common it appears, however visible its impact, remains relatively rare—mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of the deaths associated with guns in the United States today.
Put bluntly, mass shootings are not the problem. They are a symptom of the problem. The problem is as simple as the numbers; the solution is as complicated as the politics that surround it.
By Emma Teitel - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 3:41 PM - 0 Comments
Are you a deranged young man living in the United States who fantasizes about shooting up your former school, but you’re worried that Joe Biden and his gun control “task force” will rob you of your assault rifle or subject you to endless background checks at the next gun show? Well have no fear, because there’s someone looking out for you. That’s right…
Thanks to insufficient mental health resources (chances are nobody knows just how deranged you are, or can’t afford to help you even if they do) and the new NRA-sponsored “operation school shield program” you may just get to keep your guns forever. All of them.
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 2:16 PM - 0 Comments
Today’s press conference with NRA chief Wayne LaPierre is already legendary, so much so that it doesn’t even seem to matter that Jon Stewart is on vacation – no mockery of the speech can actually match its power to make jaws drop on its own.
Paul Wells has more on the substance of the speech at the linked post, but I just thought I would go through the NRA’s official transcript and pick out some of the memorable quotes.
A couple of things to note off the bat: One, the official wording of the speech is just full of italics to give it that excited, outraged feel! And two, virtually all of it is devoted to blaming the media in some way: the themes are that the media covers killers too much, is unfair to law-abiding gun owners (and perpetrate this unfairness “rather than face their own moral failings), and denies its responsibility for poisoning our children’s minds. Despite being a media conference, in other words, this is not an attempt to gain favourable media coverage. It’s directed toward people who are already inclined to blame the media, and gives them more reasons why the media is the enemy.
- Probably the most famous quote from the conference, apart from the call for armed guards in schools, is LaPierre’s attempt to play “gotcha” with the media by pointing out that his staff had found out about a violent online video game called “Kindergarten Killer.” He asked: “How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?” The obvious answer – because nobody thought, or had any reason to think, that “Kindergarten Killer” had anything to do with this crime – might have come up if he had waited around for questions.
- A key moment early in the speech comes when LaPierre congratulates himself on having waited so long to speak: “While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent.” There’s some classic jiu-jitsu: what looks like the NRA being afraid to speak about a touchy situation is actually a sign of their deep respect, and a sign of everyone else’s horrible lack of respect.
- The references to violent video games, music videos and movies suggest that at least parts of the speech are just leftover ’90s boilerplate, particularly since the two violent movies mentioned are Natural Born Killers and American Psycho – two movies from the ’90s that are more likely to be watched by film buffs than violent criminals. He could at least have updated his references to include Django Unchained or something, if he were really trying.
- The perfect LaPierre quote: “So why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect our President or our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in their schools?” Hm? How come? He’s got us there. As Dan Gardner said in response, “Why is a gun good if it shoots Hitler but bad when I let my baby play with it in the crib? Huh? Well?” It all makes perfect sense if you believe that nothing is ever dangerous unless it’s in the hands of evil people.
- And finally, his challenge to liberal media weenies to at least consider his hypothetical scenario where a heroic guy with a gun solves everything: “Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared? Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative?” You see, if we admit that something is possible, then we have to agree it’s a good idea, even if we mean “possible” in the sense of “anything’s possible, even something highly unlikely.”
By Paul Wells - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 1:38 PM - 0 Comments
It’s hard to know where to begin making sense of the NRA’s news conference this morning, in which the leading U.S. gun lobby called for a massive federal program, run by President Barack Obama and his socialist hordes, to finance a constant armed state presence in every neighbourhood in America. I’d have thought conservatives would be against that sort of thing. How will your Arm-a-Care officer get to your neighbourhood school? In a black helicopter?
There is a kind of logic in Wayne Lapierre’s argument. It’s not as though the nearly half-million armed men and women who would flood America’s 98,000 public schools — here I figure two shifts of two snipers each for each school — would be the first firearms a virginal American public ever saw. To quote Lapierre:
Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.
We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers.
Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it. That must change now!
Lapierre’s logic would be bulletproof, so to speak, if U.S. airports, office buildings, courthouses and Presidents had a spotless record free from armed assault. Or if the correlation between armed protection and safety in any of those venues, worldwide, were clear. But, yes, since America is already armed to the teeth, fully arming the teeth does make a kind of sense, if one is in a generous mood. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, December 17, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Martin Patriquin on the dizzying euphoria of shooting guns and the bloody-mindedness of the NRA
I like shooting guns.
I was a kid, maybe 10 years old, watching and waiting as my grandfather tossed glass jugs upstream into the St. Francis River near Lennoxville. I’d shoot and I’d miss. No matter: I felt the rifle flinch against my shoulder, hear the clap of the .22 bullet exploding out of the barrel, the smell of gunpowder in my nostrils all at once. The day I actually hit one of those jugs, watching something smash from afar and knowing I did it, was pure bliss.
Twenty-five years later, Las Vegas. I was at an off-strip shooting range, an AR-15—the same gun used in the Newtown massacre—against the same shoulder. Bigger gun, bigger high: it was a boom, not a clap, and the spent shells peeling out of the chamber were about the size of my ring finger. The bullets I fired ripped through a paper Osama target at the other end of the gun range. In Las Vegas, a city that lives on the promise of narco-pleasure, this was as close to a sure thing as you can get: for a nominal fee, put very real bullets into a fake Osama, over and over, as fast as your trigger finger could manage. Continue…
By Scaachi Koul - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM - 0 Comments
Assumptions, agendas, insensitivity, and idiocy were all in evidence on this difficult day.
After a mass shooting in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado killed 12 and injured 59 people, the response was immediate. There was everything from outpouring of grief to estimations of why 24-year-old suspect James Holmes may have opened fire during a screening of the new Batman movie.
Take, for example, this since-deleted tweet from Celeb Boutique, an online women’s clothing boutique. “#Aurora is trending,” they wrote, “clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;)” followed by a link to the product. The company eventually deleted the statement and sent a series of flustered apologies, explaining that they hadn’t looked up what Aurora was trending for, and aren’t a U.S. based company. The internet was less than impressed.
There was also this from the American Rifleman Twitter account, the “official journal of the National Rifle Association,” sent this morning. “Good morning, shooters!,” they tweeted. “Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” The account has since been deleted.
The comments section here at Maclean’s were no exception: user RaymondofCanada wrote, “I guess the media won’t tell us if the killer yelled ‘Allāhu Akbar’ before his attacks,” on our story about the Colorado shootings. There has been no confirmation of the shooter’s motives as of yet, religious or otherwise.
But it wasn’t just the average internet user getting in trouble online for poor taste following a tragedy. Assistant Culture Editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Marlow Stern, caught this link on DEADLINE before it was removed: “But How Will Tragedy Of Colorado Mass Shooting Affect Today’s Batman Opening?”
Obviously not the first question to ask after 12 people are murdered in a dimly-lit movie theatre.
Of course, no collection of bad reactions to gun violence is complete without the poorly-chosen words of a politician. “It does make me wonder,” said Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert from Texas, “with all those people in the theatre, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?”
During that grieving period that comes after an inexplicable act of violence, it’s often best to not say anything until all the facts are out.
Maybe our mothers were right: if you can’t say something nice—or educated—then maybe don’t say anything at all.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
Last night the CBC reported that America’s National Rifle Association has cooperated with Canadian lobby groups opposing the gun registry. The NRA hasn’t spent any money in Canada, but Canadian gun advocate Tony Bernardo says it has given “logistical support” to a Canadian lobby group and “they freely give us anything else,” although he did not elaborate.
How did CBC’s Senior Investigative Correspondent Diana Swain uncover this scandalous bit of information? Bernardo said so in a published interview a decade ago. Continue…